Midweek Run in the Sun…

Or what was left of it, the weather was perfect this afternoon. No rain, no wind, crisp and cold. I bought some running gloves at lunchtime as my hands were freezing yesterday and was looking forward to trying them out. I drove home watching a beautiful winters sun beginning to set and thought it would make some lovely photos at the beach …. And by the time I got there a bloody cloud had rolled in front of it.

However I took photos as the sun struggled to shine through. More because i’d taken the camera and was going to bloody well use it!  And what do you know? I’ve just looked and some of them have turned out ok!  I’ll post the better ones below – I’m no great photographer, in fact i’m an awful photographer – point, click, shoot, hope. Perhaps I should have a look at the camera settings sometime…

But I hear cries from the audience – How do you carry a camera, phone, headtorch, gels etc all at once?  Don’t your pockets bulge and bounce?  Nope I reply! I have one of these – a flipbelt

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Flipbelt

I must admit I was sceptical at first, how does it stay up? Doesn’t it squeeze your middle? Answers in order – magic and no. Its basically an elasticated belt with pocket access through slits all around it allowing you to slide items you want to carry into it. As I said I was sceptical but had a go anyway, mainly for somewhere for my phone as I hate anything bouncing in pockets – and I love it. It simply works. If you dont need to carry too much and nothing too bulky (You arent going to fit a waterbottle in it easily) its great, I did my half marathon over a rocky beach on saturday carrying a phone and camera in it (and one solitary gel – still an idiot) and didn’t even notice they were there. Recommended gear (Please note I have no affiliation with flipbelt manufacturers whatsoever – But if they do want to send free stuff my way at any time go ahead!)

Anyway – gear review over, todays 4.5 mile route – Monknash beach

I shake my fist at your clouds!

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Oh … Ok it looks kind of cool anyway

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Reflections in the clouds on Monknash beach at sunset – I’m truly fortunate to have this as my running playground

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Well …. That was unexpected

I’m proud to say i’ve just completed my first half marathon distance. I didn’t actually mean to. The tide was out the beach was perfect, little wind and weather was fine. I ran from home to Witches Point near Southerndown and back and would normally turn to run the path back home – around a 6 mile run but I felt great. The legs felt fantastic, no stitches and my breathing was fine.

So I kept going, halfway towards Marcross beach the rain started and the wind picked up. No matter, its beach running, it’s a bit of water. On I went! Past Marcross – Now I’ve never run past here before as I know its all rock and no sand but I wanted to take a look. It is indeed all rock but almost paved in places so not too bad. But then the real rock hopping started. I’m not sure I realised how much it was taking out of my legs, I was just enjoying bouncing around the beach, concentrating hard and picking paths. If you were to ask me how I do it I wouldn’t be able to say. It seems to be an ability to flick your eyes up to see which way you’re going for a split second then back down to watch your feet and pick the rocks you’re going to run on next.

It was around the 7 or 8 mile mark (I wasn’t really looking at the distance) I thought to myself “hang on i feel great, just keep going and see what happens” And so I reached Atlantic College, checked my distance and it was around 8 and a half miles. Pretty much perfect for 13 miles by the time I got home as long as I added a small loop of around half a mile.

So off for home I set, now with the wind and rain at my back. I was getting pretty cold by now though despite the running effort. I’m not sure if this had an effect but not far after the turnaround I started to tire. I could almost feel the energy draining away. I had an energy get but it was probably too late by then. Had I known I was going to try a half marathon I would have taken 2 or 3. My spontaneity was now starting to cost me. The journey home was more of a struggle than i’d anticipated. The sand stretch wasn’t too bad but it was taking more and more effort to spring up onto rocks at the Nash end of the beach.

Despite feeling tired I was determined to do 13 so I added a small loop around the rocky part of Cwm Nash and headed for home. Now one drawback of beach running is that you can’t escape the fact that going home is always going to be uphill and as I started the first uphill part I started to crash badly. My energy levels plummeted and I was almost falling over at parts. It was incredibly difficult to run at all and I was almost doubting my ability to get home at all. Even at a walking pace. I’m not sure if this is what marathon runners refer to as “the wall” I honestly felt like I could pass out and running was extremely difficult.

Each field on the way back was a huge challenge, not helped by the sticky mud pulling my legs down, I was literally staggering in places. To be honest it was lucky this hadn’t happened further from home. A lesson learned indeed, be prepared and if i’m going to do a longer distance plan it, don’t just do it on a whim. Still as with everything in life its a lesson learned and an exprience I won’t forget.

Forgetting that last mile though it feels fantastic that i’ve actually achieved a half marathon over difficult terrain and in adverse weather conditions. Today i’m proud of myself and I feel I deserve that feeling for a while. Six months ago I couldn’t have dreamed of todays achievement and while i’m proud of todays particular effort i’m mostly proud of sticking at it and the hundred other efforts it took to get this far.

The route

Outward bound toward Witches – These rocks require some concentration at any speed

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Traeth Mawr – Sandy stretch between Cwm Nash and Cwm Mawr. Beautiful scenery and lovely sand to run on

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Rained a bit lately – Waterfall at Cwm Mawr

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Cave at Cwm Mawr – Inside and out (Kids do not enter caves or go under cliffs like these – its very dangerous. I’m an idiot)

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  Chimney stack near Cwm Mawr

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Undercut rock at Witches Point – Only exposed at low tide

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Marcross Lighthouse from the beach

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Turning Point – Atlantic College lifeboat ramp

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Around 11 miles in these rock steps felt more like a ladder

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Limpets in a line – At this point I may have been hallucinating and willing to take photos of anything

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Second field of hell – Hey cheers horses for really making it as muddy as possible

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13 Miles and i’d like to say “Never Give Way” is more appropriate

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